June 13, 2007

Green Waste Gasified to Electricity in CA

Almost one year ago, I posted an entry on the diversion of green waste clippings from landfills to be used as biostock for a California utility electrical plant. The Bull Moose announcement was one of many planned by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) not only for biomass, but also solar and wind projects.

Yesterday another similar biomass diversion contract was announced involving a different supplier to SDG&E. Envirepel Energy, Inc. received the go-ahead on June 14th to build the 90MW Fallbrook Facility. It is the first of four separately sited facilities Enviropel is designing to supply 240MW of electricity to SDGE.

A big question concerns the amount of emissions that will be generated by the facility. Here is what Envirepel has to say about that:
Total air emissions as viewed from the stack exiting into the surrounding air are expected to be in the range as follows:

Particulates Less than 5 tons per year
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Less than 10 tons per year
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Less than 15 tons per year
Sulfur Oxides (SOx) Less than 5 tons per year
Hydrocarbons (THC) Less than 5 tons per year
Total Emissions @ 45 MW generation is approximately 40 tons per year

That's not enough to require an air emissions offset credit permit (those permits that are so costly for big natural gas fired power plants to get)...think about that, a renewable, organic power plant that doesn't pollute? That is our design goal, setting a new standard for how you should do it, not the cheapest way or the easiest, or the business as usual: way it's been done throughout the industry, but the right way to do it for today's needs.

Here is the full text of the SDG&E press release.

DG&E to expand use of biomass energy
Utility seeks to acquire more renewable energy with latest solicitation

SAN DIEGO, June 12, 2007 – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today announced it has signed a supply contract with Envirepel Energy, Inc. for renewable, biomass energy that will be online by October 2007. SDG&E also reported that it has received nearly 5,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable-energy-supply proposals in response to the utility’s most recent renewable Request for Offers (RFO) solicitation that ended May 30, 2007.

Every year since 2002, SDG&E has solicited supply bids for renewable power to meet California’s mandate of having 20 percent of its energy portfolio come from clean resources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal by 2010. Envirepel’s agreement is the result of an earlier competitive solicitation. Biomass power results from burning plant-based materials such as wood.

“We are excited about the new renewable energy contract with Envirepel and with the overwhelming response we received for supplying green energy to our grid,” said Debra L. Reed, president and chief executive officer for SDG&E. “Developers are signaling their willingness to build these renewable projects. We are committed to providing the transmission pathway necessary to ensure renewable energy from any of the projects developed reaches San Diego.”

The nearly 5,000 megawatts proposed in the most recent RFO represents a mixture of renewable energy, including about 2000 MW of wind, 2,700 MW of solar, and 300 MW of geothermal, biomass and landfill gas. Several of the proposals submitted would require the addition of new transmission infrastructure to deliver energy to San Diego customers.

Today, SDG&E is more than half-way toward meeting its 2010 goal with approximately 12 percent of its future energy supply under contract to be delivered from renewable sources.

SDG&E’s contract with Envirepel will now be submitted to the CPUC for review and final approval. SDG&E’s final selection of the renewable-energy bids will be based on least-cost, best-fit procurement criteria and will be reviewed by the Procurement Review Group, comprised of California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) staff, consumer advocates and other non-market participants, and an independent evaluator prior to being submitted to the CPUC for final approval.

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Unknown said...

The amount of air emissions that will be emitted by this facitlity is a good question to ask. Too often we neglect such important environmental questions when announcements like this are made. The atmosphere is an important thing to look after. I have done a lot of research into ground pollution and its effects, but am only beginning my research on the issue of the atmosphere and energy. The two issues have some overlap. I have found some great information through reading technical papers like these. If you have any strong resources regarding any type of environmental issue such as technical papers and industry expert reports you should consider creating a glossary of information. I often have to navigate to way too many sites to find a variety of information on such topics. I enjoyed your post. Keep up the good work.

C. Scott Miller said...

I received a welcomed message from Anthony Arand, CEO of Envirepel Energy, Inc. who wished to clarify and expand on what has been reported here on the SDG&E press release:

I enjoyed reading your columns in trying to figure out what is our company really up to. Biomass diversion contracts? Honestly, that is the first time I have heard that terminology applied to a utility or us. Please allow me to fill you in on some of the specifics.

In San Diego County green waste is diverted as is all MSW waste via recycling, it has nothing to do with the Utility. SDG&E is after Renewable Portfolio Standard qualified suppliers of electricity, plain and simple. The connection of green waste and energy projects being restricted to green waste is incorrect.

There hasn't been a new combustion design for any type of solid feed stocks in over 50 years, the one we selected was first published in 1912, and this is where people tend to focus the discussion, on the technology. Think of it this way, people compare cars for horsepower, performance and emissions in a discussion about the type of engine the car has.....how many times have you heard them discuss the suspension, braking system, catalytic converter material selection, radiator size, or pressure drop across the system that allows the "car" to perform ?

You really don't care what technology you use, you care that the integration of those technologies (the system) works together to deliver the goals of the project. The key to clean energy generation with low emissions is to design a facility from top to bottom for that purpose using multiple technologies that when combined deliver what you want. That is what our company has done, and it is not typical to an industry controlled by bankers who don't care about the environment, and don't want to spend a nickel more than absolutely necessary to make money from a project.

Here are the design targets we set out to deliver with our facility design:

1. It can't produce emissions numbers above 15 ppm of regulated pollutants to stay under the air emissions offset thresholds for a 60 MW facility
2. It can't produce noise emissions (it has to be quiet and not bother the neighbors)
3. The fuel cant smell up the neighbor hood (ie, keep it inside the building)
4. The building has to stay under 45 feet tall from a land use building code perspective with all the equipment inside
5. After initial start up and capacity testing is complete, the solid fuel facility has to be dispatchable from zero capacity to full capacity in under 10 minutes
6. The facility has to be able to process and operate on any fuel stock (biomass includes wood, green waste, MSW, and non-recyclables)
7. A structural safety factor of three on all designs (earthquake country), and a performance safety factor of two on all system components, especially the emissions systems (reliability through redundant capacity)
8. All equipment, facility layout, and employee related safety issues are compliant with OSHA
9. Zero discharge facility from a water use or rainfall run-off facility.
10. Harvest as many pollutants and green house gases in the exhaust system as can be collected for re-use and resale (don't let money go out the exhaust)

We selected a modified gasification combustion system capable of running on any feed stocks to meet the needs of the facility design and are permitting the first ones on green waste to prove out the facility design before we construct facilities on landfills that run on post-recycled MSW.

Normally a developer only develops the site, somebody else builds it, a couple of banks then own it, and some poor schmuck gets selected to operate it and prays to the heavens that the guys the "developed" it didn't forget crucial issues on the equipment design and layout.

We chose not to go that route and went down the path to design, build, own and operate our facilities. That means we staffed up with engineers, planning, fabrication, machine shop equipment, and set about building our own equipment for our own projects.

We have operated our one to one scale demonstration test cell to show that the combustion system produces the low emissions we claimed, and our first facility in Vista will demonstrate how the system works when producing electricity with all the rest of the system equipment hooked up. The next three smaller projects are also all on green waste (easy to get and no significant air emissions issues) that allow us to flush out any design problems with the system (i.e are the bearings big enough on the conveyor belts, or is one grinder really capable of holding up to the load or should we use two types of operational and reliability issues).

After that, the system fuel stock shifts to post recycled MSW on all future sites, which happen to be landfills, and we help California truly become a Zero Waste State.

I hope that helps shed a little light on what we are doing.